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My 2020 Resolutions as a New Nurse

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I’ve made it through my first year as a Labor and Delivery RN, and I can truly say I feel competent, and settled in!!!

Yes, I still ask questions daily, but I am not scared or anxious anymore. I feel like I am helpful on my unit, and can be depended on to get the job done. After reflecting on my first year, I have compiled a list of things I want to improve on as a nurse in the new year. However, no matter what kind of health professional role you play improving on these things will better your patient care and professionalism this year and for years to come.

Becoming a better educator – When you do a job every day, you may start to feel like you know most of what there is to know (not saying I do), and what’s best for your patient. It is easy to  forget that each patient is brand new, and almost all of them are new to some part of the care you are about to provide them. As a medical professional, we provide care, so we are doing what’s deemed best for our patients at the time. On top of that, your patients trusts you (9/10) so it can be easy to skip out on fully educating them about their options, what you are doing to them or for them, and most importantly WHY. Education empowers your patients to……. you guessed it! Make educated decisions! You may not agree with their decisions, but it’s not up to you. Also educating your patients covers your butt, when they know what has been done (AND ITS DOCUMENTED) they can’t say that they didn’t know. Also if things don’t go according to their plan, they will know that everything that could have possibly been done has been done for them.

Charting like a pro! – As much as it sucks, you can be an all-star nurse, go above and beyond throughout the entire 12 hour shift, but the sad truth is if you didn’t chart what you did, you kinda didn’t do it. Charting is a record of the care and interactions you have in regards to your patient. Ultimately, if you don’t chart something you’re not giving yourself credit for your hard work! There is literally no proof of how stellar you are! Thinking about it that way is helpful. If you called the doctor on your patient’s behalf let it be known! A lot of times I do let my charting go by the wayside, and I want to improve that. Writing down what you do in real time, and returning to chart it later helps. Also remember, lawsuits do happen, and your charting could become evidence in a case. It is important to be as accurate, thorough, and timely as possible.

Learn Spanish! – Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world! So its not surprising that a lot of my patients in Labor and Delivery are Spanish speaking only. Honestly, I use to dread it because having a language barrier makes your job 3x harder.  In the upcoming year, I want to see it as a fun challenge. I plan to go out my way this year to learn applicable Spanish, so that I can be better for my Spanish speaking patients, make work lighter for myself, and my unit! Translators can be time consuming although necessary. In emergency situations, language skills can make all the difference.

Maximize patient comfort! – When your main priority is your patients orders, safety, medications, interventions, and procedures, etc. Sometimes we forget about making sure our patients are comfortable!!! Bringing in extra pillows, making sure the mommy and daddy can get as much sleep as possible on his little cot before the baby comes.  Patients are already out of sorts being in the hospital. A simple “What can I do to make you more comfortable?” could help you make your patients feel settled, save you trips, and help you build rapport 😊

Thinking Ahead & Staying organized! – You do this like everyday right? Act like it! Prepare yourself for procedures, pull materials you know you might need, so you’re not scrambling when its time. Make sure your rooms have the things your patients may want or need, it’ll keep that call light from ringing some during the shift. It will also make you look like you know what you’re doing, and build trust with your patients and other providers.

Pay more Attention/Investigate – DO NOT write off patients’ complaints so easily. Investigate their complaints, and do a thorough head to toe assessment. I’ve experienced situations where patients’ complaints are ignored, or dismissed because they sound “crazy”, or the patient may come off that way, and the complaint turns out to be completely legit. This is also true with patient’s pain levels, we should believe what they report.

When legitimate concerns are written off as “crazy” or untrue it can result in less than great outcomes, and you don’t want that on your watch, so notify the MD of your patient’s complaints even if you’re not sure what to do about them, and DOCUMENT. Better safe than sorry.

Look the part! – When I first started, I was so good at this, then I got lazy. Just because you’re not working at a desk doesn’t mean you cant be made up. (this doesn’t mean your face has to be beat to the gawdz), but don’t come to work looking rough either just because you do hard work. Your patients’ and their family’s first impression is your appearance.

You are taking care of someone, and in my case, I’m helping deliver someone’s baby! Imagine a sloppy nurse coming into your room to introduce themselves. Wouldn’t you want a new nurse? Wouldn’t it make you anxious? This is your profession, look the part. Putting on a pair of scrubs doesn’t make you look presentable. Be well groomed! Look nice! You are apart of the dialogue surrounding the nursing profession.

Keeping up the professionalism – This can be hard, especially in an environment full of women. Lets be real, as women we talk, women gossip and have fun. However you must not forget, you are still in a professional setting where opportunities for advancement are around. If you are perceived as too fun, care-free, etc. you may not be considered for those roles or taken seriously as a “good” nurse. Just something to think about. You may say things in jest or frustration about your job, patients, or others. Be weary of the repercussions or who’s listening.

Staying Compassionate in the Hustle– The problem is not that we aren’t compassionate in most cases. We chose to be nurses, so most of us truly care about people. However, sometimes we forget to truly express that outside of the care we give. When our mind set is to make things better, and to fix things sometimes we forget that we can’t fix the fact that what is happening is happening or has happened. In a lot of a cases we couldn’t even imagine what our patients are going through, but I think it is our responsibility as nurses to find out how to express more love and compassion to our patients outside of care. Whether via touch or communication. I know I know, you’re thinking ” I don’t know what to say” Find out! There is research and there are resources. We can’t forget that we are dealing with human suffering. We make it our duty to let our patients know we SEE them, and FEEL for them.

Happy New Years!

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